Final effort

Fiji's Jotivini Tabua (left) battles for possession against her Solomon Islands opponent in their crucial fixture in Lautoka yesterday. Picture: MACIU MALO

FIJI held Solomon Islands to a nil-all draw to keep its hopes alive of winning the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) Women’s Nations Cup Qualifier at Lautoka’s Churchill Park yesterday.

The Marika Rodu-coached side needs a win against American Samoa in its last game on Thursday to win the championship.

Fiji and Solomon Islands are level on four points each, but Fiji edged its Melanesian neighbour on points difference after its 5-1 win over Vanuatu in the opening game.

Solomon Islands defeated American Samoa 2-0 in its opening game and needed a big win to snatch the lead away from the Fijians.

The hosts dominated the game and had heaps of scoring chances, but failed to capitalise on their advantages.

The side ruled the game by dominating possession and territory, but just could not find an opening – something the side needs to improve on against American Samoa in its last game.

Fiji had more than six scoring chances in the first spell and about five in the second, but failed to find the proper finishing.

Rodu said the players failed to keep the ball for the needed goals.

He said the side had scoring chances, but basic mistakes prevented the girls from scoring, Rodu said their opponents were also hungry for a win.

“It is difficult to play a team that also wanted to qualify,” he said.

“Solomon Islands has a stubborn defence and our girls could not keep the ball.” Rodu said the side needed to rectify all the mistakes committed during the game to beat American Samoa.

“We have one game left and we cannot repeat the same mistakes committed today (yesterday).

“We have control and the onus is for us to win the game. “American Samoa will be a tough nut to crack and we need to be patient with the ball.”

Solomon Islands head coach Diane Justus said her girls did what was required of them against a tough Fijian side.

She said the girls did their best to contain Fiji. “We expected a tough match and I am excited with the way the girls played,” said Justus.

“Fiji has more advantage, especially by playing in front of their home fans, but our girls gave 100 per cent and the draw was enough for us.”

She said the target was to win its last game against Vanuatu with a huge scoreline.

“It is going to be a huge challenge and a do-or-die match for the team.” Meanwhile, Vanuatu beat American Samoa 1-0.

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